Now a Windows user!

I’ve finally buckled and now have a Windows laptop. It was mainly forced on me by the need to have some sort of access to the intranet during the large number of meetings I’m now involved in at work. I have to say the experience has been enlightening, especially seeing all the hacky stuff that has to be done to get things working under Windows. For example by default I couldn’t connect to any https (SSL) pages. Luckily I can just hand the laptop back to IT to fix it so I don’t have to scratch my head too much.

I’ve had only sporadic luck getting Emacs up and running on it though. Having been running the tip-of-tree release on my Linux workstation so long going back to Emacs 23 has been a bit of a retrograde step. It doesn’t help there are multiple suggestions for installation. I’ve been trying to get EmacsW32 working but I’ve run into problems on start-up. So far I’ve been unable to fix the issue as the paths Emacs references don’t seem to show up in the system file browser. This seems to be the only avenue by which I can fix the permissions it’s complaining about.

Getting my init file onto the system and in the right place has also proved to be more complex than it should have been (there seems to be two “HOME” directories, one under a Roaming title). The Windows shell has finally gained completion but it’s still a shadow of a decent Unix shell. On the positive side I can already run eshell from within Emacs which provides a nice alternative to the command shell. I’ve yet to get tramp working though but I suspect that’s just a case of getting ssh keys sorted out.

If there are better solutions to getting a decent Emacs set-up on Windows I’m all ears.


    • I must admit it’s been awhile since I ran Cygwin. I’m not sure I need a complete Unix-a-like on my Windows machine. Do you need to run X to have Emacs?

      • Not if you’re happy using emacs in -nw/–tty mode. Nothing wrong with Cygwin’s X though.

  1. I just do a find-file on ~/.emacs and load the rest of my config from my Dropbox where my real Emacs files reside.

    (sorry for the terseness, I’m on my phone)

  2. > I’m not sure I need a complete Unix-a-like on my Windows machine.

    If Unix is what you’re used to, I’m amazed you’re not falling over yourself to get a complete Unix-a-link environment on your Windows machine.

    NTEmacs works pretty well for the most part, but IMHO you absolutely need to either run Cygwin, or else use something like the GNU Unix Utils. The latter is said to be faster, but I find Cygwin easier and more comprehensive, so I’ve always used that. YMMV.

    Tramp can be problematic with NTEmacs. might help.

    The Cygwin-native Emacs is slower, but has fewer gotchas. Tramp works better than in NTEmacs in my experience.

    As for the Cygwin X Server, you don’t *need* to install it to use Cygwin Emacs, but in general it’s mightily useful having a local X display for when you connect to other machines (or a local VM), so I’d recommend that as well.

    • It is tempting. I guess I’ve been viewing the laptop as “for windowy things” and my complete dev environment is only a putty ssh session away. I suffer enough cognitive dissonance anyway everytime I hit the Windows key and wonder why I’m not getting a Gnome Shell summary display.

    • The trick to getting Tramp working right with EmacsW32 is 1. set up PuTTY. 2. Set up Pageant with the keys you need. 3. Use the pscp: or plink: method in Tramp rather than ssh or sshx. I have never got Cygwin ssh working properly with non-Cygwin Emacs.

      My experience with EmacsW32 on Windows XP (similar situation to you — Linux at home, Windows at work) has been that it mostly just works, even after I replaced the Emacs/emacs directory with a Windows build of Emacs 24.

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